Last week, the news broke from Saudi Arabia that its incoming leader, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had a grand vision for the future of Saudi Arabia.
I was skeptical.
But after reading article after article after article about the Kingdom's Future, I must say, taken at face value, it seems like a really good idea.
Let me kind of open up the discussion as to why I think this plan is not the scam that the King Abdullah Economic City was. Back in 2005, King Abdullah proposed the KAEC on Eastern Coast of the Red Sea. With an almost $50 billion in investment, the KAEC was supposed to be the technological future of Saudi Arabia, while at the same time, relieving the historical congestion of neighboring cities Jeddah, Mecca, and Medina. Though ambitious, at the end of the day it was just another shiny toy for the King. There were no sweeping changes for the country itself and no grand vision for Islam with Mecca being just an hour and a half away.
But this time around, Prince MBS is proposing something truly revolutionary, not just for the Middle East, but for the whole world. The Prince is proposing spending half a TRILLION dollars to build a figurative gateway between Africa and the Middle East. By locating the new city of Neom around the Gulf of Aqaba, the Prince envisions a global technology hub which not only benefits his country, but would be a regional presence, also involving Egypt and Jordan in the plan as well.
Off of the top of my head, I can't name any technological advances that have physically crossed multinational borders except for the Hadron Collider on the borders of France and Switzerland. By positioning Neom at a multinational border, the Prince is not only building a city, but a regional economic engine.
And not only is the Prince proposing an economic generator, but he is loosening the stranglehold on his own society, declaring that he wants Saudi Arabia, and Neom specifically, to be a the forefront of a more moderate Islam, an Islam the way it was meant to be. By distancing himself, and his country, from the extreme tentacles of Islam that have wrecked nearby societies such as Yemen, Syria, and Somalia, the Prince is doing what American leaders since 9-11 have been begging Middle Eastern leaders to do, which is, condemn radical Islam. The difference is, the Prince is not doing what America dictates, he seems to be creating a footprint that he is DARING America to follow....
Saudi Arabia is the second largest oil-producing nation in the world today. The riches of oil have long lined the pockets of the House of Saud. Also, as one of the hosts to one of the modern pillars of Islam, Saudi Arabia is the beneficiary of large influxes of foreign visitors every single year to fulfill their obligations to complete the hajj. Instead of sitting on their piles of money, as they have in the past, Saudi Arabia is angling to be the leading voice in the Middle East. You could argue that so far it's all talk, but this time, I believe the changes are real.
As I type, Saudi Arabia is arresting high ranking Saudi officials in an effort to implement an "active reform agenda aimed at tackling a persistent problem that has hindered development efforts in the Kingdom in recent decades."-CNN
Investments in Alternative Energies and Futuristic Technologies? Sweeping Corruption Arrests? Embracing Moderate Islam? Americans should be celebrating, right?
The 2 Headlines on CNN next to the Saudi story today were Trump and Putin and Alec Baldwin as Trump.
Let's take a run at this Saudi Arabia story from a different side, shall we? When is the last time an American President announced a research lab on the U.S.- Mexican border, pooling the resources and manpower from 2 great nations? Okay, now I'm hearing a lot of political answers from behind the screen that I don't want to get into....
Let's try again. When is the last time an American President announced a research lab on the U.S. - Canadian border, pooling the resources and manpower from 2 great nations? Investing in Detroit and Windsor, making them leaders in North American...ah, that's enough of that. That hasn't happened either.
America used to have the vision. American used to have cooperation. Hell, most Americans who have heard of Justin Trudeau, seem to like Justin Trudeau. Where is the positioning of America in the global marketplace for the next century?
Instead, America is bickering about it's favorite subject: American Vanity.
With an exploding population under 25, the Saudis have issues with restless youth. Everything from the Prince's sweeping half a trillion dollar plan seems to be looking with a keen eye to the next generation. I can't stress this enough, HE IS BUILDING A BRAND NEW CITY COMPLEX ON THE JORDANIAN BORDER, in a DESERT. Honestly, and answer this for yourself, do you think that the policies of America's leadership today are positioning America for the next generation? And I'm not just talking government. Are American business leaders doing their part in the leadership department, or focusing on draining every single penny from America's record setting stock market?
Now the cynic in me briefly thought "maybe the Saudis are running out of oil," and I suppose that's feasible, they did some sort of internal analysis of petroleum reserves under the Arabian Desert and found out they are screwed. Well, at least they're doing something. No matter what the motive, they are eyeing the future nonetheless.
Why the skepticism? In the Summer of 2017, according to Rasmussen, a majority of U.S. Voters think that America’s best days are in the past (52%), while only 36% think they’re in the future. Twelve percent were undecided or unsure.
Editor's Note: If they were unsure, you should go ahead and chalk that up to the best days are in the past, because optimists are not usually indecisive about poll questions.
Just last week, only 32% of Americans thought we were headed in the right direction as a nation.
I just shake my head in disbelief. Hats off to Prince Mohammed bin Salman.